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St. Petersburg man charged with murder wanted to end wife's suffering from chronic pain, family says

ST. PETERSBURG — Police say Albert F. Crandall suffocated his wife with a pillow. But the husband said he did it to help his wife, Judith Davis.

He wrote a suicide letter and an email explaining that he suffocated his wife because of her chronic, painful medical condition, police said. Marlea Roberts said she believes her brother wanted to end his wife's suffering.

"She talked about how she wanted to not wake up," said Roberts, 50. "She wanted to not wake up in the morning."

Davis suffered from painful swelling in her stomach and intestines, Roberts said. She was skinny with a distended belly. Not even pain pills could ease her suffering, she said.

"She was just in a lot of pain," Roberts said. "She had no more life left in her."

On Sunday, police found Davis dead on her bed inside the couple's apartment. Her body was already showing signs of decomposition. Lying next to her was Crandall, who had apparently tried to kill himself by slitting his wrists.

The 55-year-old husband was charged with first-degree murder in the death of his 61-year-old wife.

"He insinuated in the note that it was something they had discussed," said police spokesman Mike Puetz. "But we don't know if it was something she acquiesced to or not."

• • •

St. Petersburg police received a call at 11:31 a.m. Sunday from Crandall's sister, who lives in Clearwater.

Roberts told police she had just read an email from her brother that sounded like a suicide note. It suggested that he and Davis were already dead, police said.

She said it came into her email inbox on Saturday, but that she didn't check her email until the next day. When officers arrived at the apartment building at 661 77th Ave. N, the couple's door was unlocked. Inside they found Crandall and Davis in bed together.

Crandall was conscious. He was taken to Bayfront Medical Center, where he was treated and released. He was then booked into the Pinellas County Jail, where he was being held Monday without bail.

He had never before been charged with a violent crime in Florida, records show.

• • •

Roberts said her brother was under a lot of stress.

She thought it was because he was working 12-hour shifts at Daiquiri Deck in Madeira Beach. His wife's condition also was taking a toll, she said.

She last saw Davis on Wednesday. She talked about her pain, Roberts said, and how she wanted it to end.

"I was just there an hour and I couldn't take it," Roberts said.

But detectives still have to determine that the wife was, in fact, suffering from chronic pain, Puetz said.

"Obviously, we'll have to take a look at that issue," he said. "But it doesn't really change the charge itself."

Staff writer Jamal Thalji and researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Danny Valentine can be reached at (727) 893-8804 or dvalentine@tampabay.com.

St. Petersburg man charged with murder wanted to end wife's suffering from chronic pain, family says 04/23/12 [Last modified: Monday, April 23, 2012 10:33pm]
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